Four Peaks as seen from the Desert Belle Cruise in Mesa, Arizona

Taking a narrated ride along Saguaro Lake, located inside the Tonto National Forest just 45 min northeast of Phoenix, is the perfect summer activity. When it is just too hot to explore the beautiful Sonoran desert, an air conditioned boat ride is the perfect scenic alternative. Brutal 100+ degree daytime summer temps can make any outdoor activity miserable, even downright dangerous. So what do you do in Phoenix when you want to enjoy the fabulous scenery, yet you do not want to suffer heat exhaustion?

Boaters enjoying beautiful Saguaro Lake in Mesa, Arizona

A gorgeous air conditioned cruise

One great idea is to take a comfortable air conditioned ride along Saguaro Lake on the Desert Belle. Taking this fun tour allows you to take in a bit of the gorgeous Sonoran Desert scenery without overexerting yourself in the hot desert. That being said, during the winter months, you must get out there and explore the many wonderful hiking and biking trails found throughout the Phoenix metro. It just isn’t the same viewing these majestic cacti by boats. Nevertheless, when summertime comes along, a scenic boat ride is the next best sightseeing option.

Desert Belle cruises on Saguaro Lake in the Tonto National Forest - Mesa, Arizona

The Desert Belle

The Desert Belle is a 2 level boat, consisting of an air conditioned lower deck and a covered upper deck. Surprisingly, even in 100+ degree weather, it is pleasantly comfortable on the upper deck. The covered seating really goes a long way in keeping any sun away. As soon as you start moving, the breeze is quite pleasant. An on-site snack bar and drinks are available for purchase during your ride. In addition, there is a lakeside restaurant if you would like to enjoy a full meal.

Daytime and sunset cruises available. The daytime cruise gives you a wonderful opportunity to enjoy the outdoors despite the intense summer heat. The sunset cruise gives you more opportunities to see wildlife. Live music is offered on some cruises (check evening schedules on the Desert Belle website).

Jet skiers enjoying gorgeous Saguaro Lake in Mesa, Arizona

History of Saguaro Lake

Saguaro Lake is part of the beautiful Tonto National Forest, located just 20 minutes or so from the Mesa area.  It’s not more than an hour or so from any of the Phoenix suburbs, and therefore, is easy to access from anywhere in the Phoenix metro. Saguaro Lake was formed by the Stewart Mountain Dam, which was built in 1930, making in the last reservoir built on the Salt River. The lake was named as so after the high number of Saguaro Cacti lining the shores. The contrast of the lake with the gorgeous rock formations and unique desert plants is truly spectacular.

Rock formations on Saguaro Lake in the Tonto National Forest - Mesa, Arizona
Pretty rock formations on Saguaro Lake - Tonto National Forest in Mesa, Arizona
Cool rock formation on Saguaro Lake - Tonto National Forest in Mesa, Arizona
cool rock formation on Saguaro Lake in the Tonto National Forest in Mesa, Arizona